Primer-dimer and other PCR artefacts

PCR is susceptible to qualitative and quantitative errors caused by the accidental, and highly efficient, amplification of short non-target PCR templates formed by fleeting complementarity of the primers with non-target templates, or among the primers themselves (SantaLucia, 2007; see the BEEBOOK paper on molecular methods; Evans et al., 2013). Such artefacts can be identified by gel electrophoresis during assay optimization. The easiest solution to persistent PCR artefacts is to design new primers and test these experimentally (SantaLucia, 2007).